The Librarian III: The Curse of the Judas Chalice (2008)

The “Library”, as you may or may not know, is a secret research facility that finds and acquires artefacts with powerful magical properties and stores them away safely so no-one can use them for any mischief. This franchise is currently represented by a TV series (called, of course, The Librarians), a team-based adventure show. Preceding the TV show there were three films called The Librarian, with the librarian in question being Flynn Carsen, played by Noah Wyle. Wyle (or rather: his character) also pops up in the TV show on a regular basis, but is not part of the core team.

As you may have already guessed, the Librarian franchise resembles other franchises from closely related sub-genres. The archeology adventure of Quatermain and Indiana Jones, the archeological problem solving of Relic Hunter and Warehouse 13, as well as the latter’s function as safe storage – all these things come to mind.

The film at hand, The Curse of the Judas Chalice, also throws in a bit of MacGyver improv and James-Bondian suaveness. The film plays with all these elements, joyfully emulating instead of blindly copying them. It thus becomes a parody of these old tropes, and at the same time also a parody of itself. For example, throughout the film, our hero Flynn is randomly throwing obscure historical facts around in an extremely artificial and exaggerated way that reminds one of Flint more than of Bond (although you might argue that many Bond films also are a parody of themselves). That said, while all of this is amusing, you should not think that the humour in this film is superbly meta, or outstandingly sophisticated. It is solid, entertaining, and witty. And that should be considered enough for a made-for-TV adventure movie.

The only really out-there joke involves the Voynich manuscript, and is therefore probably lost on 90% of the audience.

The plot of this third film in the franchise revolves around an artefact that, we are told, is connected to the Dracula myth. Flynn is actually on holiday after having had a nervous breakdown and/or crisis of confidence. But thanks to some renegade Russian agents he finds himself involved in a hunt for that powerful (and dangerous) artefact.

Like the previous film in the franchise, the film has been directed by Star Trek‘s Jonathan Frakes. Apart from Noah Wyle, Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin also return to their roles from the previous two films. All three are perfect fits for their characters. The other prominent roles in this film are played by Werner Richmond, Bruce Davison, and the stunning Stana Katic.

Acting, writing and directing are good throughout, and the sets and props used in this film do look the part.

The film establishes its vampire lore quite effectively, and is never overloading the film with unnecessary detail. There are some plot holes in this story, but this is not the kind of film where that matters much. The vampire elements in this film are prominent at times, but in a way secondary, as the MacGuffin could have been anything and the vampires could also have easily been switched for something else.

There is very little in this film to “analyse” or even to review. It is simply intended as an entertaining romp, and as such it is pretty enjoyable. If you always felt you wanted to see an Indiana Jones film with vampires in it, this is as close as you will ever get. Just at a fraction of the budget, and without Harrison Ford. 😉

Rating: 6.5 to 7.0 out of 10

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